Saturday, December 23, 1995

Arafat issues presidential decree, calling for the establishment of an election appeals court composed of judges Zuhayr al-Surani, `Abdallah Ghazlan, Imad Salim, Sami Saba, Shukri al-Nashashibi; extends nomination period, set to close today, to 12/29. (al-Nahar 12/24 in FBIS 12/27)

Arafat arrives in Bethlehem to open the city's first Christmas celebrations under Palestinian rule. (NYT, WP, WT 12/23; CSM, WT 12/25 12/26)

Lebanese Pres. Hariri says Lebanon would be willing to negotiate a separate peace deal with Israel but would only sign it when an overall agmt. with Syria had been reached. (AFP 12/23 in FBIS 12/26)

In Cairo, Egyptian Pres. Mubarak meets separately with Syrian Pres. Asad, Israeli FM Barak in preparation for the opening of Syrian-Israeli negotiations 12/27. After the mtg., in his 1st public statement on resuming talks with Israel, Pres. Asad says Syrian negotiators will go into the talks with no preconditions. (WT 12/24; RE 12/23, ITV 12/24, 12/25 in FBIS 12/26; JP 12/30)